A new research examination co-author Kate Christensen, assistant IU professor at the Kelley School of Business, and other academics at the University of California, Los Angeles, found that when COVID-19 testing was not available in communities, study participants were more likely to engage in risky behavior despite being instructed to isolate oneself.
“If you are told to isolate yourself, if you do not have an available test and you do not have a positive test result, you are less likely to isolate yourself,” Christensen said.
The study showed that when someone is told to isolate themselves and have a negative COVID-19 test, they are 39% more likely to engage in risky behaviors.
Researchers asked 1,194 people about various hypothetical test situations to evaluate their impact on risky behavioral intentions in those believed to have COVID-19, according to a news item on IU Article. The researchers used a platform created by Amazon called Amazon Mechanical Turk, which pays people to take surveys.
“In the beginning, we were really interested in the value of a positive test,” Christensen said. “By the end of the project, what seemed perhaps more relevant was what a negative test means.”
All subjects were asked to imagine that they had expected symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever and cough, and then their doctor asked them to isolate themselves. Subjects were asked how likely they were to engage in behaviors that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised against or other public activities.
The study had a pre-study that ensured participants were over 18, living in the United States and not just clicking through the study, said fourth-year UCLA medical student and co-author Justin Zhang.
“If you just click through the survey without thinking about it, you might get that question wrong,” Zhang said.
Researchers also asked study participants about the likelihood that they would participate in a protest or would vote in person in this hypothetical scenario where they are presumed to have COVID-19.
“We found that people who identified with themselves as Democrats were less likely to engage in what we define as quote-quote, risky behavior compared to their Republican counterparts,” Zhang said.
Researchers also found that those who identify as Republicans were significantly more likely to participate in personal voting than those who identify as Democrats. This finding was then confirmed by personal turnout in national elections 2020.
Zhang said the study suggests that when a person has evidence of a COVID-19 diagnosis, such as from a diagnostic test, it results in significant changes in behavioral intentions.
“Whether or not you were in the testing, inaccessible group, the doctor diagnosed you anyway, clinically diagnosed you with COVID and told you to isolate yourself,” Zhang said.
At IU, the symptomatic test options are virtually limitless, said IU Chief Health Officer Dr. Aaron Carroll.
“We want to make sure everyone has really good access when they are symptomatic, but they also have the chance to get a test anytime they are worried or feel it could improve their safety,” Carroll said. .